At Noon on the 22nd of September, Truist Bank had planned to evict unhoused people from the plaza at 18th and Columbia Road and fence the area off. They got an unpleasant surprise: activists were holding the plaza, and the delay allowed city officials to call them out for attempting to build the fence without a permit. Had the fence been up before the inspectors arrived it would probably have been allowed to stay.
This is but one of many places in DC where unhoused people now stay, and represents a new and more aggressive approach to resisting eviction of these spaces. This case is additionally complicated by both the history of the site, and due to Truist's intentions to destroy the plaza outright in favor of a condo project.
There are currently 5 active court cases over the future of this plaza, which originally became a public space as part of a judgement against one of the banks that later became part of Truist. Truist came from a merger of Suntrust and BB&T banks, and at least Suntrust came out of earlier bank mergers. Most or all of these banks had redlined the area and refused to write any mortgages, so no house could be bought or sold except for cash. The plaza came out of judgements over this, so Truist does not have rights to build on it.
Truist is attempting to turn the property over to a condo builder so a 7 story condo building for well-heeled "New Washingtonians" can rise where unhoused people now sleep. In doing so, Truist is continuing the racist real estate practices of the banks that merged to create them, and which led to the original judgement creating the plaza as a public space.
Protesters won on Sep 22, but this is not over: no doubt Truist will seek a permit to erect their fences prior to resolution of the five court cases. On Saturday, September 25, protesters will return to launch a divestment and account closure campaign against Truist Bank.